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The Effect of Claw and Beak Reduction on Growth Parameters and Fearfulness of Two Leghorn Strains

Commercial equipment used by the turkey industry at hatch sterilizes the germinal tissue of the claw with microwave energy and the beak tissue with infrared energy. This effectively trims the claws and beaks of the birds. Two strains of Leghorn chicks (1,200 each strain) were utilized to test this technique on chickens. Half were subjected to the claw reduction (RC) technique at hatch, and half retained intact claws (IC). The beaks of one-third of the birds in the claw treatments were reduced (BT) at hatch using the infrared technique, one-third were precision trimmed at 7 d, and one-third were not trimmed (IB). Body weight, weight gain, feed intake, feed conversion, mortality, and fearfulness were measured. Rearing followed standard commercial feeding and husbandry procedures. The RC birds had significantly lower BW, except from 3 to 6 wk, and had significantly lower feed consumption from 8 to 18 wk. The 1 d T birds experienced significantly lower BW from 3 to 14 wk and ate less total feed by 4 wk.  Mortality was less than 2.1% for all treatments. From 6 to 8 wk, fearfulness score (a subjective scale of 1 to 10) peaked at 8 to 10 for IC birds and 3 to 4 for RC birds. By 16 to 18 wk, fearfulness score subsided to 2 to 3 for RC and 6 to 8 for IC. Beak trimming and reduction of claw growth at hatch allowed pullets to be grown to sexual maturity on less feed and with a lower level of observed fearfulness using standard husbandry practices.

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11 August 2010


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